10/3/18 – Pastor Brian’s Blog
It was probably 43 years ago, and if my memory serves me correctly, my sister Susan & her husband, our good friends Ron & Cyndi, and Judy & I went out to dinner and then to a concert in Bangor, Maine. This concert was the first time that Judy had ever attended anything like this. The artists came out with their faces painted; we learned things like “Jeremiah was a bullfrog,” that “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do,” we heard about “An old fashion love song” and we also learned that “They had never been to Spain.” There was even one song they sang, that I thought my mother had called in a request for them to sing… “Mama told me not to come!!”
Now move forward 43 years. Judy and I are celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary in August and we wanted to do something different to celebrate. Judy found out that this band from 43 years ago was still playing together and that they were coming to a small venue in Plymouth, NH. So I reserved a room for us at a bed and breakfast, and then bought tickets for this concert. So last Thursday, we checked into our B & B, walked downtown to eat at the Panther Pub & Grill and then walked to the venue, not really knowing what to expect.
Well the “warm up” band was… well, a warm up band. But when the main attraction came out to sing, although they looked nothing like they did 43 years ago, listening to them, you knew that they were the original band. They sang many of their top hits, because that is why many of us were there. We were not interested in any new songs, we wanted to hear the ones that we could sing to. Although I must admit, I was a bit surprised at how old the crowd looked, nevertheless it was a fun night for Judy and me reliving some of our history!!
On the way home the next day, we talked about what we had experienced the night before. Although we enjoyed ourselves, we felt sorry for the band members. The lead singer was 76 years old, and all though they tried hard, (they even jumped up and down a few times), their energy level wasn’t there. One of the singers, although he was making fun of himself, listed all the physical ailments that he currently had. They made mention of the fact that they had been singing together as a band for over 50 years and by the time the concert ended, they looked like they has been singing together for over 50 years.
Yet there is no doubt in my mind that these six men in their 70’s had pushed themselves physically, harder and longer than most 70 year old men. I have little doubt that they have fought and made sacrifices to bring their minds and bodies under control so that they could continue to experience the excitement of playing before a live audience. To be able to hear the crowd give a standing ovation, knowing full well that the crowd is expecting a curtain call, that their fans are desirous to hear them sing just one more song before the evening has to end.
I believe that this band experienced all these things that night, but as I think back on that evening, I truly feel sorry for them. These men have experienced great success; you can listen to any oldies station and hear their songs being played to this day. They probably have made more money than the combined lifetime income of everyone that will read this blog. They have experienced longevity and fame, yet there is a hopelessness in their songs; they seem to know that if they do not continue to perform, that eventually they will be forgotten.
My thoughts then went to Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth when he wrote… Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
This band has won the prize, they have experienced success like few other bands have. They have attained the crown, they have been singing together for over 50 years. They have beat their 70+ year old bodies into submission so that they can continue to perform. Yet they are missing one thing: achievements that will last forever.
I began to think that if these men can work hard all their lives, if they are willing to make incredible sacrifices for things that don’t last, that have no eternal qualities at all, shouldn’t we Christians be willing to make that same effort, that same investment into things that will last forever? If these men are willing to invest all this time and energy to get a standing ovation, shouldn’t we be willing to make that same investment of our time and energy to hear God say “Well done thou good and faithful servant?”
The fact is, few of us truly love living a disciplined life, although we love the benefits that a disciplined life produces. But the truth is, there are no shortcuts: to be successful you must be disciplined. If this band was willing to discipline their whole lives for things that don’t last, how much more sense does it make to discipline our lives for things that last forever?!
“…to be successful you must be disciplined.”
It is a fact: each one of those men will eventually die and we will too. God has made that appointment for us… And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. Hebrews 9:27
With that truth in mind, should we invest in things that don’t last or invest in things that last forever? As a Christian, it doesn’t seem like that should be a hard choice to make at all!